The bill against homosexuals presented to the Ghanaian parliament could propose up to 10 years in prison for LGBTQ + people as well as groups and individuals who stand up for their rights, express their compassion or offer social or medical support, in one of the most draconian and comprehensive anti – Proposed gay laws around the world.
Support for intersex people would also be criminalized and the government could order intersex people to undergo “gender reassignment” surgery, the bill said.
A leaked copy of the Bill to Promote Adequate Sexual Human Rights and the Ghanaian Family Values Act, widely circulated on the internet and confirmed as authentic by diplomats with access to the bill, has sparked outrage and growing fear among human rights activists.
The bill would be the first major step in criminalizing sexual minorities and their supporters since independence from colonial rule.
The prospect of tough new laws was welcomed by a large number of MPs and supported by representatives of President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government.
It follows a wave of repression against LGBTQ + people in the West African country since January of this year. In February, a common room providing support for sexual minorities had to be closed due to backlash from politicians, civil and religious groups and the media. This also led to an increase in the arrests and mistreatment of people who were considered gay or queer.
On Friday, Sam Nartey George, an MP who called gay rights “perversion” and led a group of lawmakers drafting the bill, dismissed the online condemnation of the bill as “uninformed”.
“Homosexuality is not a human right. It’s a sexual preference, ”he said in a post on Twitter. “We’ll get this bill through.”
Foreign diplomats said they expressed great concern to the Ghanaian government about the law. Ghanaian officials have privately tried to allay fears that the law will be passed.
Parliament has not yet set up a committee to review the bill and the bill is likely to be subject to various changes before it is passed.
Nana Ama Agyemang Asante, a journalist and activist in Accra, said she was “stunned by the content, the rawness of the language and the cruelty behind the intent” of the bill. “I’ve spent all of my time as a journalist advocating gay rights, so I can’t believe we’ve got to this point where they want to criminalize everything and everyone, including the existence of allies, intersex and asexuals . “
Among other aspects of the bill that resulted in conviction, groups or individuals viewed as funding groups who advocate or offer support for LGBTQ + rights could face criminal prosecution. Marriage would be clearly defined in Ghanaian law as between a man and a woman.
Media companies, online platforms, and accounts that post information that might encourage children to explore any gender or gender outside of the binary male and female categories could face 10 years in prison.
Since January, groups from across public life, from politicians to journalists, civil and religious leaders, have led a violent condemnation of LGBTQ + rights and support networks in Ghana.
Ghana’s government promised new laws to ban gay advocacy amid hysteria over bolder efforts to establish support for sexual minorities. A group of eight legislators presented the bill to parliament on June 29th.
“Unnatural carnal knowledge” – often interpreted as non-heterosexual sex – is illegal in Ghana. Law enforcements are rare, yet many gay and queer people have reported being ill-treated by citizens and law enforcement agencies.
Amid growing calls for crackdown on those allegedly promoting LGBTQ + rights, 21 people were arrested at a training event for paralegals and other professionals working to support vulnerable groups in Ho city in March. They were released on bail last month, but many of the accused are living in safe houses for fear of safety, some have been abandoned by family members and have lost their jobs.